My Local Bar – Red Rock Sportsbook Bar

Video Poker And Beer Red Rock Las Vegas
Video Poker & Beer

People ask me pretty often what it’s like living in Las Vegas. I’m a city guy but I imagine living 20 minutes from the strip is what like living the suburbs anywhere would be like. Everything around me is a strip mall, casino, golf course or desert. It’s much less intense than I’m used to and I like that. Oh yeah, I have about 15 coffee shops within a mile of my house.

Las Vegas is a transient city and many people just stay here for a short while so people come and go fairly quickly. I was talking with someone a couple of weeks ago about having a local bar. A bar like the TV show “Cheers”, where everybody knows your name. Last weekend I realized that my local bar is the sportsbook bar at Red Rock Casino.

During baseball season I’m there a few days watching the games, playing video poker and having a couple of beers (Usually Kona Fire Rock). I usually have my head buried in my iPhone or on one of the games in front of me and I’m not very social but the bartenders have been the same people since I moved here and they’re always nice. Last week one of the bartenders started a conversation making fun on the fact that I wasn’t wearing my New York Yankees hat for a change.

The quick exchange reminded me that the bartenders at that bar know about half the people who visit. That seems like a lot of people for a casino bar. There are plenty of bars in this area but that’s my favorite because of the access to watching so many games. A pint of Fire Rock Pale Ale is only $3 and they have daily drink specials like most bars. Even if we don’t chat much because I keep myself busy I always feel like I’m at the bar I should be and there’s something comforting about that.

I just realized that the picture above took was taken while we were talking about the Yankees.

Rockhouse Now A 5 Star Dive Bar

I was invited to the grand opening of Rockhouse at The Venetian and since I visit The Venetian and The Palazzo pretty often I figured I’d check it out. Between the two casinos I like the sportsbooks, dining selections, coffee options, craps at The Palazzo and wifi accessibility at The Venetian (The Palazzo stopped free wifi last year).

Rockhouse Sign

 

Rockhouse is litterally located in between both The Venetian and The Palazzo in the Grand Canal Shoppes. Across the hall was First Food and Bar which was considered to be a part of The Palazzo. More than anything I was curious how the idea of a dive bar could possibly be a reality at a luxury hotel.

Rockhouse used to be located at Imperial Palace but it closed last year when renovations began turning IP into The Quad. Rockhouse isn’t a dive bar any longer…it’s an “Ultra-Dive Bar“.

WTF IS AN ULTRA DIVE BAR?!

The marketing was such a turn off that before I went to the opening of Rockhouse I was skeptical that there was any way this place could be cool. I was right and I was wrong. Rockhouse is not a dive bar. It’s located in a luxury resort and sells drinks that are competitive for the Vegas strip – not a dive bar. However…

Marketing aside Rockhouse is pretty cool!

Rockhouse Bar

Rockhouse is a bar. No more, no less. This awesome Grey Goose and soda was poured by a bartender that had must have had lead in her wrists (STRONG DRINK). I rarely feel the effects from one drink but this one hit me pretty nicely. In fact, this was the only drink I had at a totally open bar. Thanks Rockhouse, this was perfect. I hope that you can replicate this drink when I visit again.

The decor and name Rockhouse lead me to believe that I would be hearing some awesome rock jams. Unfortunately I heard no rock. The party played the most obnoxious mainstream pop music. I heard Pitbull three times in 20 minutes and I wanted to hurl. I like Pitbull but this was a bit much. The decor makes me think that there will be rock music for me when I return to Rockhouse in the future. Check out this sweet pool table.

Rockhouse Pool Table

The bartenders were I met were all nice and all good looking. There was only a short wait for drinks at a packed open bar. That’s impressive for just 3 bartenders. The back room of the bar has a few tables with views of the strip, mechanical bull, VIP area and a DJ booth. Not quite dive bar-ish. The front room where the pool table above is located has beer pong tables a nice selection of beer on tap and plenty of big TV’s.

Rockhouse has a $50 all you can drink all day deal which isn’t as bad as it sounds. The deal lasts from open to close and if you’re a boozer you and have more than 6 drinks or so this is probably a value. With all of the new TV’s and it being a new bar this might actually be a good deal to watch March Madness. Unfortunately your $50 won’t get you a sweet guitar full o booze.

UPDATE: The day before March Madness Rockhouse raised their all you can drink prices to $125.

Rockhouse Guitar Drink

$35 seems like a lot for a super sugary drink. If I’m getting a souvenir drink I prefer a 22 ounce skull of beer for $10. I walked into Rockhouse with a chip on my shoulder because of the marketing and expected to hate Rockhouse but I enjoyed it. Rockhouse isn’t a dive bar but it is a pretty cool bar away from the family chaos at The Venetian.

Now that First Food and Bar is closed I think Rockhouse will fill the void of a good out of the way place to have a meeting at The Venetian.

Downtown Vegas Updates

There are so many new businesses opening up in Downtown Vegas that it’s difficult to keep track of. The changes range from casino renovations to new bar and restaurant openings. I’m always excited by the shiny new things in Las Vegas but I got way too excited when Vegas Chatter went the preview of the Downtown Grand.

If you’re into Downtown Vegas but not as in touch as you like I recommend following a few websites.

Vegas Chatter – They’re a legit press outlet located in Las Vegas but they’re not mainstream media. They go to the press events so they have the mainstream info covered but they also have a lot of people on the street writing for them (including me) to give first hand views, pictures and opinions. Follow on twitter for all of their Vegas stories plus first hand accounts and follow the downtown Vegas tag for just the downtown articles.

Fremont Street Bars – They have all the news you could imagine one the bars on Fremont Street. There have been a lot of bar openings so there’s a lot to keep track of. While 90% or so of the website is focused on bars they also have news restaurants and larger projects. The focus of Fremont Street Bar is it’s strength. There’s no news from anywhere else in Las Vegas distracting from Downtown Vegas. Follow on twitter or their RSS feed for the news.

Joe Downtown – Joe Downtown covers Downtown Vegas for the Las Vegas Sun. Since the Sun is a mainstream newspaper for all of Las Vegas you’ll find coverage of everything from government to what’s happening in the casinos. It’s a nice mix of what’s happening in downtown Vegas that you won’t find on Vegas Chatter or Fremont Street Bars. Follow Downtown Joe page on the Las Vegas Sun or on twitter

 

The Linq Announces Exciting Tenants

Caesars Entertainment announced some more tenants for The Linq and it’s as exciting as you’d imagine.

…the Yard House restaurant aims to slake the thirsts of beer fans, while the Asian-themed F.A.M.E.— for food, art, music and entertainment — market will offer sushi, dim sum, noodle bowls and robata grill foods to patrons in lounge seating and street art from urban Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore and Seoul.

Other tenants include Sprinkles, a Los Angeles-based cupcake and ice cream shop; Flower and Barley, a brick oven pizzeria; Koto, an oddities and gifts store with outlets in Miami and Aspen, Colo.; and Off the Strip, a bistro and bar.

Caesars customers tend to be your average consumer. People from the coasts might say that Caesars markets to middle America. These are the blandest of the bland consumers. Your average mall shopper.

This person is the polar opposite of who The Cosmopolitan is trying to reach. Caesars customers are not young, cool or looking for anything new and interesting. I like Yard House, but this is a perfect example of what Caesars customers want. They play classic rock and serve beer. What says middle America more than that?

It’s cool, we’re not all the same and that’s cool.

Caesars has filled 12 of 18 spots in The Linq shopping and eating area with a year or so to go before opening. This seems very similar to the rate MGM acquired tenants for Crystals at City Center. That’s not bad.

I’m not going to predict success or failure until The Linq is open (if it opens), but the initial tenants show me that Caesars knows who their customer is.

There are still 6 spots left at The Linq and I’m hoping for Speaker City to be one of them.

The Linq Should Be Open By December 2013 And Nobody Cares

I haven’t seen a solid opening date for The Linq until earlier this week when Vegas Chatter revealed this image they received from an email.

The Linq December

 

This just means that we can expect construction on the Las Vegas Strip to continue for most of next year. If the Bally’s Grand Bazaar actually breaks ground this quarter (don’t hold your breath) we can expect even more traffic on the strip. That’s awesome.

The strange thing about The Linq is that it’s this major strip project but nobody seems to know what it is or care. Comments on Vegas Chatter for articles on The Linq are empty unless they’re talking about the ferris wheel. Maybe a handful of Vegas travelers I know on the east coast have a clue about this until they run into traffic on the strip.

Every time I mention The Linq to random people I have to explain that it’s the reason that there’s so much traffic on the strip. Or it’s the thing where O’Sheas used to be. After they say “O’Sheas is gone?” nobody even asks what The Linq will be.

I’m fascinated by The Linq and initially thought that The Linq is a perfect match for the typical Caesars customer. I still think that’s the case, but find it interesting that few people outside of Vegas locals, media and nerds have a clue about something that is, potentially, changing the Vegas Strip so drastically.

Las Vegas: Where Daily Doesn’t Mean Every Day

All You Can Eat Pancakes At Planet Hollywood Las Vegas
All You Can Eat Pancakes

I watched week one of the NFL season at Blondies at Planet Hollywood. This is my favorite non-sportsbook to watch football. Prices are relatively cheap and there are plenty of TV’s for the games.

Sunday we found false advertising at the table at Blondies. The daily special above for unlimited pancakes & $2 beer sitting on our (and every) table is not available on the weekend.

My friend was going to load up on $2 beers, but I told him to ask if it’s available before going crazy. See, in Las Vegas daily (somehow) doesn’t always mean every day.

He asked about the $2 beer special and was told that it’s not available Saturday or Sunday. I asked about the $6 all you can eat pancake special. She said it was the same.

Of course specials like this on the strip for an NFL Sunday were too good to be true. If I know Las Vegas, Blondies will keep these tabletop promotions up for the NFL season. Consider this your heads up.

Despite this, I still think that Blondies is the best place on the strip to watch the games that isn’t a sportsbook.

Note: I wrote about Flavor Flav’s Fried Chicken at Blondies yesterday at Vegas Chatter.

Video Poker in Supermarkets Now Giving Comps

When you live in Vegas, you see video poker everywhere. There are tiny “casinos” like Dotty’s. Restaurant/Bars like Buffalo Wild Wings have video poker. They’re also open 24 hours a day. Kinda cool, kinda strange but very Vegas.

When I moved I found it strange to see video poker in gas stations. I found it even more strange to see people playing video poker in gas stations. Last year I saw a guy hit a royal flush. He was jumping up and down and for a moment I was stoked for him. Then I got sad, when I wondered if he was there every other week using his paycheck to gamble. Once I realized that there are plenty people like this in casinos I was fine and enjoyed my 99 cent soda.

Probably the strangest place I’ve seen video poker is at the supermarket. Supermarkets in Vegas are bigger than I’m used to back east. There is one across the street from me with a Starbucks (complete with seating) AND Panda Express (no seating) as well as all the fresh counters you’d expect to see. There’s also video poker and slots where I rarely see people playing. That might change soon.

Golden Gaming is about to make that possible by giving grocery store slot players their own rewards club.

One of the business units acquired by Golden covers the roughly 2,200 slot machines operated in large grocery store chains statewide. The games in some 151 stores account for almost 25 percent of Golden Gaming overall route of 8,500 slot machines.

On Tuesday the company will launch Checkout Rewards, a players club dedicated to grocery shoppers. Part of the launch includes a giveaway of $100,000 in cash and prizes over the summer. Plus, three people will win a year’s supply of groceries when the promotion concludes Labor Day weekend.

“This is the first time that someone with the responsibility for our gaming route has created something of value for our customers,” said Chris Middleton, area vice president of operations for Albertsons, one of three Southern Nevada grocery chains that will participate in the promotion along with Smith’s and Vons.

It’s an interesting idea that seems to be a long time coming. There are players clubs for everything and it was surprising that there was no players club involvement in the supermarkets. Since the supermarkets don’t own or maintain the machines they wouldn’t provide rewards, although that would be cool.

I don’t see myself ever having the urge to play video poker in a supermarket, but at least the people that play in supermarkets now can get some rewards.

Cosmopolitan Changes Continue

As I mentioned last week, Rehan Choudhry leaving Cosmopolitan may be a sign that things were changing. Changes continue as Cosmo announced that they’re opening a sport bar. The EA sports bar (yes, named/branded after the video game company) will open around the release of of Madden 2012.

The new 25,000-square-foot venue, which will hold as many as 125 guests, is born from a partnership among the Cosmopolitan, EA Sports, PlayStation and Sharp. It will feature Sony PlayStation 3 consoles, a selection of EA Sports games such as Madden NFL 12, FIFA 12 and golf against Tiger Woods, and six high-definition televisions to broadcast daily sporting events.

The sports-bar-meets-lounge is designed to have an intimate “living room” feel with nine seating vignettes featuring leather chairs and sofas, as well as an antique foosball table. It will serve bottled beers and snack food and include a retail area selling clothing, gifts and video games.

Madden is the only video game I’ve purchased religiously for Xbox or Playstation in the past 10 years. I love it. Madden may be popular, but sports and sports video games are not cool or hip. They never have been.

I’m a sports guy and welcome a sports bar, but I can’t see the hipster shunning his fancy mixology cocktail at Vesper and joining the bros/dudes for a Bud Light at the EA sports bar (or lounge). Something’s gotta give.

EA branding aside, this likely means the end of Book & Stage as we know it. Book & Stage has never has been much of a sportsbook or place to watch sports. This was the case even before the Cantor Gaming sportsbook opened last year. It’s a great place to watch a small band. I just hope they don’t replace the free national touring bands with bad classic rock tribute bands.

Look for “STAGE” to open later this year. Maybe they’ll rename it “pLace” with a hat tip to Stiffs & Georges and “Family Guy“.

Things are changing at Cosmopolitan. Bro.

When in Vegas for Business

When people think of Las Vegas, they often think of a city where people travel to for long weekends, spend lots of money on gambling and/or clubs, and then head home. But Las Vegas has a much different kind of customer, one that fills in the gaps for those long weekends: the business traveller.  Traveling to Las Vegas for business can be a different experience and Bloomberg has a guide for the business traveller.

This guide is awesome, but I’m not sure how it pertains to specifically business travellers.  Sure there’s no mention of day/night clubs and bars, but there’s plenty of information on gambling and strip clubs.  In my world, when people travel on business, there is a need to act professional. I’m not sure how strip clubs fit into all of that.

All of that aside, the article is full of good advice.  There is really good information that the occasional visitor wouldn’t know.  Things such as:

  • Cabs can’t pick you up on the side of the road
  • House edge for many popular casino games
  • Using a players card every time you gamble
  • Put all charges you can on your hotel bill
  • Avoid ATMs at the casino

I think the information in this article isn’t so much for a business traveller as it is for anyone who just needs to know some tips for having a good time in Las Vegas.  After all, who wouldn’t want to know how to get casino comps, save on transportation, and know the right games to play?  These tips are valuable and can go a long way to helping someone maximize their Vegas experience.